(The Center Square) – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he is considering shutting down the world's largest city in response to the coronavirus by implementing a shelter in place program that would force most residents to stay in their homes.
Residents should be prepared for a decision within two days, he said.
"New Yorkers should be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order," de Blasio said. "The decision will be made in the next 48 hours."
San Francisco Mayor London Breed and all Bay area counties implemented a similar measure Monday. In the Bay area, all businesses that don't provide essential functions were forced to close and residents were told to stay home except for essential needs.
“I don’t take this lightly at all," de Blasio said of New York City's plans. "Folks have to understand that right now, with so many New Yorkers losing employment, losing paychecks, dealing with all sorts of stresses and strains, I’m hearing constantly from people who are tremendously worried about how they’re going to make ends meet."
The mayor said the decision would have to be made in coordination with the state.
"I have not heard of anything like this in the history of New York City," he added.
On Sunday, the mayor announced that schools would be closed for the remainder of the month and possibly the rest of the school year. On Monday, he banned indoor dining at city restaurants and bars.
As of Tuesday morning, New York City has confirmed 814 cases of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that originated in China in December.
Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, coughing and trouble breathing.
Most people who have it develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually the elderly and those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.